The anime Eighty-Six (sometimes just called 86) just released Episode 15 on Saturday, October 23. This is my first review of the anime since I’ve been busy catching up and binge-watching episodes on Crunchyroll. But it’s quickly becoming one of my favorites. The newest episode (also referred to as Season 2 Episode 4) gives a poignant look at the fallout of war. Even though our 86 team has more support this time around, some things still don’t change.
This is a review of Eighty-Six Episode 15, “Welcome Back.” (Also referred to as 86 Season 2 Episode 4 in some locations.) As such, the review will have spoilers. Please note that this is an anime ONLY reviews, with no light novel spoilers.
This was perhaps one of my favorite episodes of the new season so far. There were some poignant & sad scenes mixed with a few lighthearted moments of much-needed laughter. I’ve been following this series closely since I started binge watching it about a month ago, and none of the episodes disappoint. At first, I was concerned that this series wasn’t post-apocalyptic enough to fit this website. But during the second cour, I’ve quickly come to see that it’s even more post-apocalyptic than we realize at first glance. Few countries have survived the Legion. The ones that have are struggling to find a way to continue to defeat this autonomous robot army.
Last week was heart-wrenching when it ended with Eugene dying. The episode was spent developing a friendship between him and Shinei and Frederica. Then at the end, he was mercilessly slaughtered by the Legion and Shinei had to bring his gun back one more time to take the life of a friend before the Legion could steal his mind. It was really, really sad. 🙁
Wenzel Will Always Fight for Her Squadron
The new episode begins with a meeting of the military commanders as they determine that there’s a high probability of a Legion attack, based on information from their autonomous scouts. (Of course, if they just listened to Shinei, who can still hear the Legion, they’d have better intel.) Col. Wenzel asks for her men back in her Nordlicht squadron. The 86 are the only ones able to operate the Reginleif prototypes, and as such they’ve been scattered among different squadrons. But she thinks it’s best to bring them back together in preparation for the Legion’s attack rather than keeping them grouped with the older Vanagandr units.
It’s so interesting to see some of the military here arguing that it’s unfair for the 86 kids to keep being sent back to war after what happened to them in their previous lives with the Republic. This country, the Federacy, has such a different viewpoint when it comes to treating the 86 and other soldiers. It’s refreshing to see. I love the contrast this anime is painting between the different countries and their approaches to war.
We also get a good look at the schematics of the Reginleif, which are supposed to be of higher quality than the Juggernauts that the 86 were operating.
Frederica Brings a Welcome Lighthearted Touch to This Episode
In the next scene, Shinei — as squadron commander — gets an updated battle report. It’s nice to see that he’s getting the recognition he deserves in the Federacy. Unfortunately, he’s still not getting the additional men that he deserves. 🙁 But the man reporting to him, like everyone else, questions why he is making his life harder by not joining a regular unit. They don’t truly understand all the 86 have been through and their desire to see the war against the Legion to its end. During their conversation, Shinei flashes back to when he had to kill Eugene. Even if he doesn’t express it, Eugene’s death is still deeply hurting him. Every person who dies that he’s friends with or who is under his command leaves a scar.
After his flashback to Eugene’s death, we get a lighthearted scene with Frederica sleepwalking. I normally don’t enjoy when a child is added to a storyline mostly for laughs, but 86 handles Frederica so well. She has a deeper purpose than simply bringing lighthearted moments. But she’s also absolutely adorable, so she serves to lighten the mood well too.
Frederica is such an intriguing character to me. She was part of the Giadian Empire’s royal family and the last survivor. Her identity as “Empress” has been kept hidden and the Federacy population believe that everyone in the Empire was killed. It was her family who created and sent off the Legion to fight and wipe out other countries they were at war with. In fact, she said in a previous episode that she was the one who gave them their last orders and, perhaps, is at fault for their autonomous war. (I’m not sure how a child accomplished that, but I’m sure we will learn more.) The royal family’s own people rebelled over the creation of the Legion and in the end, she was left with only her knight Kira protecting her while she was in hiding.
I’ve wondered if she and Shinei Nouzen are somehow related, since his parents were originally from the Giadian Empire (and they both have brown hair and red eyes.) In this episode, she said that he and her knight Kira are distantly related.
It’s Good to See the Gang Back Together
In the next scene, the entire squadron is back together. Shinei, Kurena, Anju, Theota, and Raiden. (And of course, Frederica.) They’re returning to the Giad Federacy’s 177th Division Command Post, where they will be back under the command of Col. Wenzel.
The scene with Wenzel discussing battle plans with the squadron provided another much-needed lighthearted moment. I actually laughed out loud when she and Shinei went back and forth over whether the mechs should be called Reginleifs or Juggernauts. But then he referred to them as “aluminum coffins” just like the Republic’s Juggernauts, and things got serious again fast. Shinei tries to provide her some good feedback, saying that although they will only work with a certain type of Processor (the 86), they’re fast and maneuver well.
Wenzel gives them a little background on herself, sharing that she is opposed to child soldiers being sent to the front lines because she was only their age herself when the Legion first began fighting them 10 years ago. She was a Vanagandr pilot at the time, and many of her friends died because of how slow those mechs were. She vowed to build faster versions so fewer would die, which was why she made the Reginleifs. But she’s now vowing to make them even better, so that Shinei is one day forced to compliment them.
Some of the most interesting scenes to me delve into world building and what’s going on outside of our limited perspective of one country. Through Wenzel, the show tells us that the Republic and the Federacy are not the only countries to have survived the Legion’s onslaught. The United Kingdom of Roa Gracia (to the north) and the Alliance of Wald (to the south) have also survived and they were just now able to confirm that. So more countries are cut off from each other than just the Republic and the Federacy. They built defensive lines and maintained an area where they survived, so they’ve been decimated too. But other surrounding areas, including the Republic of San Magnolia to the west, are still not responding to messages and may be wiped out.
The Federacy is gearing up for a large-scale Legion attack. Unfortunately, she’s doubting Shinei’s message about just how big the attack is going to be, and she believes he’s just worrying. So it looks like Shinei is trying to give them information without revealing the connection his mind has with the Legion.
Frederica’s Story About Kiri Is Heartbreaking
The next scene with Shinei and Frederica is particularly intriguing. She reveals that her knight, Kiriya, is a Nouzen too, just like Shinei. They’re not “truly related” because Kiri wasn’t a direct descendant of the Nouzen clan like Shinei is. She then tells the story about what happened to Shinei, explaining that the people of the Federacy rebelled after they sent the Legion to attack their neighbors. The Legion didn’t protect the Imperial family like they had hoped – something went wrong. Kiri ended up fighting to protect her and in the process, killed many people from the Federacy (people who are now her allies.) She said he lost everyone and everything except her and it drove him mad. He eventually began to enjoy killing people, which terrified her. When the fortress fell, Ernst saved her and faked her death. But Kiri believed she had died and gave up his life to the Legion in despair. Now he’s part of the Legion.
She told Shinei that she wants him to survive and flee if things get bad and not sacrifice himself trying to protect her like Kiri did.
Raiden Will Never Stop Looking Out for Shinei
The final scene of the episode is a poignant one. Raiden and Shinei are talking, and Raiden chastises him for revealing anything about his power and connection to the Legion. My guess is that the Federacy doesn’t even know that the Para-raids were created by experimenting on Shinei and using some of his natural powers. I believe that since Frederica was able to command the Legion, we are going to eventually learn that Shinei is from the royal family too and has the same type of power.
Raiden, however, is most concerned with keeping Shinei, himself, and their comrades safe. He had warned Shinei to never even hint at his powers, because he’s afraid they will experiment on him — and possibly use his friends as hostages to force him to comply. After all they’ve been through with the Republic, Raiden’s concern is certainly understandable. I wouldn’t trust anyone either.
Another element of this series that I truly like is how important the rest of Shinei’s squadron is to defeating the Legion. In some stories, the person with “special powers” would overshadow everyone else. But in this story, Shinei needs the rest of his team just as much as they need him.
The episode ends with a poignant moment as Shinei and Raiden wonder what the Major is doing. We haven’t seen her in quite some time, but her connection to the squadron — especially to Shinei — still hangs heavy over the storylines. I can’t help but imagine they will one day be reunited. The only question is how.
This was a strong episode with a good mix of melancholy and humor. My only hope is that more people learn what a great anime this is, so it will be renewed for another season.
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